A Letter of Recommendation

By Yehuda Amichai 1924–2000 Yehuda Amichai

Translated By Chana Bloch and Stephen Mitchell

On summer nights I sleep naked
in Jerusalem. My bed
stands on the brink of a deep valley
without rolling down into it.

In the daytime I walk around with the Ten
Commandments on my lips
like an old tune someone hums to himself.

Oh touch me, touch me, good woman!
That’s not a scar you feel under my shirt, that’s
a letter of recommendation, folded up tight,
from my father:
“All the same, he’s a good boy, and full of love.”

I remember my father waking me for early prayers.
He would do it by gently stroking my forehead, not
by tearing away the blanket.

Since then I love him even more.
And as his reward, may he be wakened
gently and with love
on the Day of the Resurrection.

Yehuda Amichai, “Letter of Recommendation” from Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai, published by Harper & Row. Copyright © 1986 by Yehuda Amichai. Reprinted by permission of Hana Amichai.

Source: The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai (Harper & Row, 1986)

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Poet Yehuda Amichai 1924–2000

POET’S REGION Israel

Subjects Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Religion, Faith & Doubt, Judaism

 Yehuda  Amichai

Biography

Yehuda Amichai is recognized as one of Israel’s finest poets. His poems—written in Hebrew—have been translated into forty languages, and entire volumes of his work have been published in English, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, and Catalan. Translator Robert Alter has said: “Yehuda Amichai, it has been remarked with some justice, is the most widely translated Hebrew poet since King David.” Amichai’s translations into English . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Religion, Faith & Doubt, Judaism

POET’S REGION Israel

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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